Arizona moves to allow concealed guns in bars

Written by Janet

Back in the days of the old west, cowboys had to check their guns before they could pull up a bar stool for a drink – rules that protected against the saloon gunfights that came to define the frontier era in places like Arizona.  But that could change soon. 

There’s a bill moving slowly through the Arizona Legislature has some bar owners fearful that the state is turning back the clock to the Old West. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to bring a handgun into bars and restaurants serving alcohol.

This bill will give the bars the discretion to keep gun-toting patrons out, and anyone with a weapon would not be allowed to drink. But the bill has angered bar owners who believe booze and guns are a recipe for disaster.  

The bill is part of a nationwide push by the National Rifle Association. Georgia passed a similar law in 2008, as did Tennessee earlier this year in becoming the 40th state to allow bar or restaurant patrons to carry guns.

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said it’s about time Arizona passes such a law, and that the most important thing is that people carrying guns into bars aren’t allowed to drink.  But many are against this bill.  

“You don’t want intoxicated people with weapons, and this bill continues the prohibition against drinking and carrying,” said Kavanagh, a retired police officer in New York and New Jersey. “What is the problem with having a gun in a delicatessen where someone is having a beer with their pastrami two tables away?”

The law would only apply to people with concealed-weapons permits because lawmakers say that type of gun owner has to pass a background check and take an eight-hour course to get their permits, and are therefore safer. More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed-weapons permits, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Arizonans are also allowed to openly carry guns – on a belt or holster, for example. But those people would still not be allowed in bars or restaurants serving alcohol if they’re armed.  The bill has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House; Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would still have to OK it.

Marc Peagler, owner of the Silver Spur Saloon Restaurant in Cave Creek outside Phoenix says, people with concealed-weapons permits aren’t people to be concerned about.  People who carry concealed weapons for the most part are your general law-abiding citizens, and the people who are going to break the law are going to do it no matter what laws we have out there. 

Frank Murray, owner of Seamus McCaffrey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Phoenix, said he opposes the law and will prohibit his customers from coming in armed.  He said there’s enough nuts out there already on the streets, they dont’ need anymore.  

The Arizona Licensed Beverage Association threw its support behind the bill after some compromises were made this week. The Arizona Restaurant Association has taken a neutral stance, but in previous years came out against most bills that would have allowed guns in bars and restaurants with alcohol.

This year’s bill is one of several measures loosening gun laws moving through the Arizona Legislature.



  1. newsdeskinternational

    Ariz. lawmakers approve bill allowing guns in bars

    The Arizona Senate has given final approval to a bill that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun into a business that serves alcohol.

    The 19-8 vote completes legislative action on the bill and sends it to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she has long been a supporter of gun rights.

    The measure has pitted powerful groups representing gun and bar owners against each other, sparking a debate about whether guns and alcohol can coexist without bloodshed.

    Critics of the measure say guns and alcohol are a dangerous combination.

    Supporters say they should be able to protect themselves and their families even if they happen to be inside a business serving alcohol.

    The measure would ban drinking while packing and allow restaurants to deny entry to gun-toting citizens by posting a sign next to their liquor license.

    The bill initially required that a bar serving alcohol also serve food, but that provision was removed at the request of bar owners who worried about uncertainty over which bars have kitchens.

    Forty other states have approved similar measures, according to the National Rifle Association.

    Former Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed a similar bill earlier this decade that would not have required people to have concealed weapons permits in order to carry guns in bars.

    More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed weapons permits, which require a gun safety course and background check, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

  2. newsdeskinternational

    Guns and booze don’t mix, Tennessee lawsuit argues

    A well-known restaurateur is fighting back against Tennessee’s newly enacted law that allows gun owners to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

    Randy Rayburn, owner of three top-rated restaurants in Nashville, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the state law’s constitutionality, arguing it creates a public nuisance by threatening the safety of the public.

    “If it’s called a ‘nuisance bar,’ with shootings, it normally gets shut down. But in Tennessee, we apparently are going to have 225,000 vigilantes shooting in bars,” said David Smith, Rayburn’s attorney.

    At least 200,000 Tennesseans have permits allowing them to carry their guns concealed while in public. The new law that takes effect on July 14 also specifies that persons who bring their guns into an establishment cannot drink alcohol.

    Rayburn’s lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, claims the law violates the constitutional rights of the owners, customers and employees of restaurants and bars.

    The new law was pushed by the Tennessee Firearms Association. Its executive director, John Harris, said critics had every opportunity to defeat the legislation — which state lawmakers passed with little opposition — and should not turn to court action at this point.

    There are 37 U.S. states that give most people who apply the right to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. A few U.S. towns have tried to require residents to own guns.

    A spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group, said Tennessee’s law posed obvious risks.

    “Any time you introduce guns into a situation where there’s alcohol, where they can be fights, it’s dangerous,” spokesman Chad Ramsey said. “We’ve all been to bars. They get crowded and there’s pushing and shoving sometimes. A situation that is ugly can become deadly.”

    Rayburn’s lawsuit will receive a hearing on July 13, a day before the law is due to go into force.

  3. newsdeskinternational

    Arizona to permit handguns in bars

    It’s official….Arizonans with concealed weapons permits will be allowed to take a handgun into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jan Brewer. The measure, backed by the National Rifle Association, will require bar and restaurant owners who want to ban weapons on the premises to post a no-guns sign next to the business’ liquor license.

    Drinking while carrying a weapon would be illegal.

    Before a compromise reached late in the Legislature’s regular session, the measure pitted powerful groups representing gun and bar owners against each other.

    Opponents have said mixing guns and alcohol produces a dangerous combination that could cause violence. Supporters said people should be able to protect themselves at businesses that serve alcohol. Supporters also said it was risky to leave guns in parked vehicles.

    The bill originally only applied to establishments with kitchens, but it was expanded to include bars. Another change was to move the location for posting a no-guns notice, which originally was to have been next to the main entrance. Some bar owners had worried about uncertainty over which entrance would be considered the main entrance.

    A lobbyist for the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, which opposed the original bill, said the amended version created clear, uniform and enforceable rules. “It’s going to happen one way or another, and this was the best version we’ve seen,” ALBA lobbyist Don Isaacson said after the bill was revised last month. It’s already legal to carry a gun into a store that sells alcohol for consumption elsewhere.

    It would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 to carry a gun into an establishment with a no-guns notice posted. The law, however, includes a partial legal defense for a person carrying a concealed weapon within an establishment banning guns. It would apply if the sign had fallen down, the person wasn’t an Arizona resident and the notice was first posted less than a month earlier.

  4. newsdeskinternational

    Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest — and it’s legal

    In Arizona, at Obama’s speech yesterday, a man was seen carrying an assault rifle, along with a handgun, which is legal….he was one among several who used their right to bear arms….

    Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.

    “It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms,” police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.

    Arizona law has nothing in the books regulating assault rifles, and only requires permits for carrying concealed weapons. So despite the man’s proximity to the president, there were no charges or arrests to be made. Hill said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.

    “I come from another state where ‘open carry’ is legal, but no one does it, so the police don’t really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely,” the man said. “I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it.”

    The man, wearing a shirt and tie at the health care rally, added that he was unhappy with some health care reform proposals.

    “I’m absolutely, totally against health care, health care in this way, in this manner,” he said. “Stealing it from people, I don’t think that’s appropriate.” Gun-toting protesters have demonstrated around the president before. Last week, a man protesting outside Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire had a gun strapped to his thigh. That state also doesn’t require a license for open carry.

  5. newsdeskinternational

    Okay everyone, it will be official Wednesday…

    Guns will be OK in Ariz. bars starting Wednesday

    A new Arizona law allowing people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns into bars takes effect Wednesday. But many bars are pulling in the welcome mat.

    The law allows bar and restaurant owners to post signs barring guns.

    There’s no official tally on how many of the 5,800 establishments that sell alcohol have posted signs, but the state says it has provided at least 1,300 laminated placards so far, and the signs are also available over the Internet.

    The law was backed by the National Rifle Association, which argued that licensed gun owners shouldn’t be forced to leave their protection behind.

    The law, however, prohibits gun-carriers from drinking alcohol in the establishments.

    The NRA says Arizona is the 41st state with such a law.

  6. Janet

    Now though, it looks like Florida is leading with nearly 1 million concealed weapons permits.

    Florida to Be First to Reach 1 Million Concealed-Gun Permits

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